Statement from Bishop Berg – 3/13/20

March 13, 2020

Pueblo – Following the order by Governor Jared Polis to cancel all public gatherings of 250 or more people to help stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), and acting on the advice of the leading health experts, the bishops of the three Catholic dioceses in Colorado have announced that all Catholic Churches in Colorado will not celebrate public Masses until further notice. This decision is effective immediately. 

In a time like this when Mass is unavailable, the Catholic faithful are dispensed from their Sunday Mass obligation. 

While we know that some will not agree with this decision, we have determined that it is our responsibility to do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and help protect those who are most vulnerable to adverse health complications, especially the elderly. We have seen the evidence where taking precautionary action early has led to far better outcomes for a region. 

The sacrifice of the Holy Mass will continue in private, but its public celebration will be suspended until it is deemed safe to hold large community gatherings. We ask all of the faithful to continue to keep the Lord’s Day holy and to join their sacrifices to the Mass from their homes.

Because the governor gave his order on Friday, we had to act quickly to make the decision for this weekend. There are still details that need to be worked out for how we will operate over the next several weeks, but as of now for the Diocese of Pueblo: 

  • Catholic Schools are closed at the end of the day today, March 13. Contact Catholic Schools directly as to when they will reopen. 
  • Diocesan and parish offices will remain open, but non-essential events and meetings will be canceled. 
  • Funerals and Weddings can be celebrated with a reduced number of people. However, we encourage delaying these Liturgies. If celebrating, efforts must be made for groups of people to be spaced out by the recommended 6 feet of separation. 
  • Priests will do their best to accommodate increased requests for the Sacraments of Healing (Penance and Anointing of the Sick).

Masses in English and Spanish are available at https://www.ewtn.com. If you do not have internet access, please check your local listings for televised or audio Masses. It is advised that in the absence of receiving the Holy Eucharist that you spend time praying with the Sunday Gospel and making an Act of Spiritual Communion, which can be found at https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/devotions/act-of-spiritual-communion-339.  

More information, resources, and updates will be made available at https://dioceseofpueblo.org

During this time of the global pandemic, let us continue to remain in prayer and solidarity as we pray for the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus to watch over the Diocese of Pueblo, grant wisdom to the medical and scientific community, and for a quick resolution to this global health crises. 

Limited Mass Attendance Directives

Considerations for those participating in Mass

Limited Numbers—Due to the civil recommendations, the number of people who will be able to attend any given Mass will be greatly reduced. The limited public offering of Mass is an outreach to those who may safely attend. It will not satisfy our expectations of regular Mass attendance.

General Dispensation from the Obligation of Attendance at Sunday Liturgy—Has been granted by the Bishop until further notice. The opening of daily Masses provides an opportunity for worship and communion for the faithful to look forward to, as can be offered in charity, and this opportunity should be promoted.

Weigh the Risk—Even with best practices, the risk of infection exists anytime a person leaves their house. Anyone in a higher risk category, or showing any symptoms of illness, should be encouraged to stay home. Participation in livestreamed or recorded Mass along with making a spiritual communion, keeps us in mind of our love of God and neighbor during these troubling times, and is a source of true consolation.

Germ Mitigation—Those who attend Mass should plan to wear a mask or cloth face covering, refrain from unnecessarily touching surfaces, respect social distancing, use hand sanitizer, follow directions for seating in the designated worship space, and observe other safety precautions as needed.

Children—We hope there are families who can attend these limited public Masses with their children. But be sure they bring masks and understand the social distancing needed (families living together don’t need to social distance from each other).

Scheduling Limited Public Mass—The faithful should check with their parish in advance as to when Masses are offered each day and to follow the process for attending Mass. Once the recommended attendance for a particular Mass has been reached, they should be encouraged/given an option for attendance at a Mass at a subsequent time. They should also be encouraged that, while the Sunday obligation had been dispensed, they are most welcome at the daily Masses as they are available.